The wildlife that visit our gardens play a vital role in the natural world and the environment. There are many things that we as gardeners can do to help local wildlife. Building a wildlife shelter is beneficial to a variety of garden animals and insects.
Regardless of how big or small your garden space is, there are lots of creative ideas to inspire you from choosing nectar rich plants or creating inviting habitats for birds, bees and butterflies. Even balcony gardens and window boxes can provide suitable habitats for wildlife.
Building a bee hotel can be both decorative in the garden and provide a safe habitat for bees to over-winter in. Bees are important pollinators for the garden and the environment. Many bee species nest in the ground and small spaces within garden walls. Bee hotels are easy to make using the leftover cuttings of garden plants. Raspberry cuttings and bamboo are ideal because they form a natural hollow in the plant stem.
Multi-story Garden City
Using items stored in the shed such as pallets, bricks, old roofing tiles or terracotta pots, you could make a multi-storey structure which will provide safe hideaways for a variety of insects and small animals. No skill is needed to create a winter wildlife shelter. With a little imagination and knowing what wildlife visit your garden regularly you could provide shelter for bees, frogs, beetle larvae, ladybirds and if you are very lucky you might even get a visit from a hedgehog.
- Provide lots of tunnels and crevices using dead wood, twigs and woodchip which beetles, spiders and woodlice will find inviting.
- At ground level dig a small ditch and fill with leaves and stones to create a damp environment for frogs and toads.
- You can add in some hollow canes or mimic natural holes which bees would usually over-winter in.
- Plant decorative grasses and nectar rich flowers around the structure to create a natural habitat with is functional and a delight to look at and enjoy.
Having frogs or toads in the garden is very beneficial to gardeners. These amphibians are natural predators and thankfully keep the slug and snail population down in the garden. Attracting frogs and toads into the garden means creating an inviting habitat. Frogs and toads don`t necessarily need a pond in the garden to take up residence. Most amphibians hibernate for the winter and they favour damp underground tunnels.
- Dig a small hole about 30cm deep and fill it with logs and leaves.
- Make sure to leave lots of gaps between the logs where the frogs can find a cosy space to settle in for the winter.
- Continue to create a mound of logs with plenty of entrance holes then cover with a thin layer or soil.
- You can even make this extra inviting by planting some winter flowering plants such as cyclamen and sprinkle some wildflower seeds to encourage insects to the flowers and provide your frogs with some breakfast in bed.
Of course, to encourage some of the smaller animals into the garden it is important to think about how they can access the wonderful shelters that you have built for them.
Hedgehogs and frogs are more likely to enter the garden if there is a small opening near the garden fence. A small opening in the fence or just under it will provide great access in and out of the garden.
Adding climbing plants such as ivy or clematis will provide habitat for birds and small animals to shelter in and leaving areas with a wild meadow or longer grass provides a safe route to travel for frogs, toads, hedgehogs and small mammals.
Get creative and have fun building a wildlife shelter. Then sit back and enjoy watching nature move into your garden and shelter in their new winter habitat.